High school mechanics get ‘huge head start’

The ACSS apprentices will showcase their work at this year’s Country Car Show in Aldergrove.

Aldergrove’s up-and-coming automotive technicians will showcase some of their latest and greatest mechanic work this weekend.

The 7th annual Country Car Show, hosted by the Vintage Car Club of the central Fraser Valley (VCCC) will take place in the parking lot of Aldergrove Community Secondary School (ACSS) bright and early this Sunday.

Beginning at 8 a.m., car fanatics can register their vintage vehicles as a part of the mass VCCC showcase.

ACSS auto teacher, Darren Jones, will facilitate his students as they showcase some of their automobile projects from the current year.

This year, one of his students has replaced the engine of his own vehicle in the high school’s shop, and another has made adjustments to his souped up Jeep – all during school hours.

RELATED: RCMP to hand out steering wheel clubs at 2019 Country Car Show

“A lot these kids are super bright, they just struggle in regular high school and aren’t engaged by sitting at a desk all day long. It is torture to them,” Jones explained.

“They are the students that if you looked at their report card [before the automotive program] you’d see grades sitting at around 50 per cent. Now, almost every kid in my class is on A honour roll,” Jones lauded.

ACSS is the only high school in the Langley School District that offers the ITA Youth TRAIN in Trades Automotive Service Technician program. Langley teenagers in grades 11 and 12 apply for the one-year apprenticeship every summer.

This year, eight students ranging from 17 to 19 years of age were accepted into the school’s specialized program.

“Because this is such a unique opportunity and the students don’t have to focus on any other courses, they get a huge head start in an industry that needs young people right now,” Jones said.

“Many of my students will end up with job offers before they even graduate,” Jones admitted.

READ MORE: Langley car wash supports charity, one clean car at a time

High school graduates would otherwise enter the automotive industry through local post-secondary programs at the University of the Fraser Valley, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Jones said.

The cost of these programs – typically ranging anywhere from $2,000 to $3,500 – is no fiscal match for ACSS’s free one-year program, which also doubles as high school credit.

Thankfully, government grants keep the high school’s auto shop “spruced up” with an ability to purchase equipment needed, Jones said.

The high school also receives out-of-commission donations from local dealerships and conducts its own fundraising as well.

“I can’t speak highly enough about these programs,” Jones finished.

ACSS also has a hairdressing and carpentry program for students looking to makes steps towards learning those skilled trades.

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ACSS auto teacher, Darren Jones, will facilitate the students as they showcase some of their automobile projects from the current year. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

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